In the latest development in the case of tragic teenager Harry Dunn, a US court has effectively paved the way for Harry’s family to file a wrongful death lawsuit against their son’s suspected killer, Anne Sacoolas, in America.
At a court hearing in the eastern district of Virginia, senior US District Judge, T.S. Ellis III, denied Sacoolas’s motion to dismiss the case, citing an “obvious inconsistency” in the defendant’s position regarding the “venue and the circumstances”.
At the conclusion of the hearing on Tuesday (February 16), the judge said: "While it is commendable that defendant Anne Sacoolas admits that she was negligent and that her negligence caused Harry Dunn's death, this does not equate acceptance of responsibility”.
"Full acceptance of responsibility entails facing those harmed by her negligence and taking responsibility for her acts where they occurred, in the United Kingdom", Judge Elis III concluded.
However, Sacoolas is extremely unlikely to return to the UK as the US government – which employed her in an intelligence capacity – dismissed a UK extradition request in January 2020.
Sacoolas, 43, killed Harry on August 27, 2019, by crashing into his motorbike outside RAF Croughton.
Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road outside the RAF base which houses a large US spy base.
The same eastern district of Virginia court heard earlier this month that Sacoolas was “employed by an intelligence agency in the US” at the time of the crash and that her secret work was “especially a factor” in her escape from the UK on September 15, 2019.
Reacting to the US court’s decision, Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said she is “pleased and relieved” at the same time.
"We only took this step as a last resort following the denial of justice in the extradition case on strong advice from our legal team", Charlotte added.
But while Harry’s family may be pleased with the US court’s decision, the fact remains that by allowing the family to pursue civil damages against sacoolas in the US, Judge Ellis III has skillfully reinforced the US State Department’s position of ruling out the intelligence officer’s extradition to the UK.
In that sense the latest development may prove to be a pyrrhic victory for Harry’s family.
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